Refugee Farmers

When Seynab Ali flew to the United States, she tied herself to her children because she was afraid she would lose them in the air. During the 20 hour flight from the refugee camp in Kenya to the United she was so terrified, she did not sleep.

Twelve years later, standing in the middle of her field in Lisbon, Maine, Seynab laughed remembering that flight and her first months in the United States. Surrounded by acres of quiet farmland, she is happy and relaxed. It is difficult to reconcile the image of this strong, powerful woman in her field with her description of arriving in terror.

In the early 2000s, fleeing an incredibly violent civil war, thousands of Somali refugees were granted asylum in the United States. Drawn by affordable rent, safe neighborhoods, and a growing Somali community, hundreds of refugees began settling in Lewiston, Maine.

These images are a selection from a larger project about refugee farmers struggling to build new lives, and their growing role American agriculture.

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